New Carnivore Revealed
Revealed Monday, the first new species of meat-eating mammal to be discovered in 24 years bares its teeth for the cameras in a recent picture.
First spotted swimming in Madagascar's Lac Alaotra in 2004, the cat-size creature resembles a "scruffy ferret" or mongoose, said John Fa, a director of conservation science at the U.K.'s Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, who was part of the discovery team.
"We biologists are a bit like children," Fa said. "We like new things. So a new species is something that really excites us."
Dubbed Durrell's vontsira in honor of the late conservationist Gerald Durrell, the new carnivore is an especially rare find: "The probability of finding a new herbivore"—or plant-eater—"is always greater, because there're more of them," Fa said. "Carnivores are much more specialized and usually found in low densities."
(See a picture of the Cypriot mouse, the first new mammal species to be discovered in Europe in more than a century.)
Described in the September issue of the journal Systematics and Biodiversity, Durrell's vontsira was discovered by researchers from the Durrell trust, the Natural History Museum in London, Nature Heritage in Jersey, and Conservation International.
Pictures: "Scruffy" New Carnivorous Mammal Found
Likened to a "scruffy ferret," an odd mammal on Madagascar may be the first new species of meat-eater found in 24 years.